Posts Tagged colonial

Ethiopia 101: Your Brief Photographic History Lesson

My trip with Laura to Ethiopia last March/April was a pretty amazing experience and so – even though it is quite behind the occurrence of actual events – I wanted to finally get it up here on the blog. I counted just now and realized that I have now visited 10 (luckily I didn’t need to go higher or I would have had to start using toes) of the 56 or so nations in Africa – and in this sample Ethiopia has been the one place that is the one of those things that is not like the others, the one that just doesn’t belong. I say that in a good way –it was just a very different culture and experience than the other countries in east and southern Africa I’ve visited and for that reason I still wanted to share with you a little of that trip here on the blog.

Ethiopia is a very proud country and makes the point to make it known that they are the only country in Africa to have never been fully colonized. They have a very unique history and one that I certainly didn’t know much about before visiting but if you are interested I found a relatively short but good summary here. What struck me most on this trip was not only how rich and varied the history of the country is but also how it is truly at the forefront of most attractions in the country. You really see the history everywhere you go and the Ethiopian people we met were always very proud of this heritage. Another cool part was that you could often very much interact with the history in Ethiopia. Whereby a 700 year old goat-skin bible might be in a museum behind glass and off-limits in some places (probably for good reason) – here you were given the book and could flip through and really experience it.

Tanzania on the other hand has very little pre-colonial period history that you can actually visit/touch/experience. You can visit a few archaeological sites or see the ancient overgrown ruins of a Swahili trading centre or mosque – but for the most part (perhaps with the exception of Stonetown, Zanzibar) there is very little remaining physical evidence of the thousands of years of life before the colonial period. Ethiopia, as you will see from the photos, didn’t require quite so much imagination to step back in time.

Anyways, this will be more of a lazy man’s blog post – heavy on the photos and light on the written word. But perhaps that is what makes a better ‘travel’ post anyways since my words sure aren’t going to get the idea across or make you start planning you next vacation to Addis Ababa. I’ve tried to select a cross-section of photos from the trip that show off different aspects of the history which we were lucky enough to have visited in our 12 days in the country.

The country also has some more recent history readily apparent in the capital of Addis Ababa. 1974 saw the overthrow of the monarchy system that had traditionally ruled Ethiopia and it’s famous “Rasta” symbol Emperor Haile Selassie through a military coup. The 1970’s and 80′s were marked the terribly violent rule of the communist “Derg” dictatorship and the famines which came to the world’s attention and still mark many peoples’ perceptions of the continent.

Ethiopia is also blessed with plenty of natural beauty as well – although quite different from the lush beauty we find in many parts of Tanzania it had its own charm (which shone through the dust occasionally).

I have previously discussed on this blog some of the stupid things I’ve done in the pursuit of a unique experience. The town of Harar in Eastern Ethiopia is famous for its Hyena Men – who go outside the ancient stone walls of the city each night and feed packs of wild hyenas which come down from the surrounding hills.

Naw, its not really all that stupid or dangerous – there must be hundreds of people who do it each year and I haven’t heard of any issues. But at the time you have that hyena running up and opening those bone-crushing jaws a foot away from your nose…well you have a few second thoughts…but by then its probably too late so you’d best just hold still and try not to look/smell too much like dinner.

If you are interested in seeing the full album of Ethiopia pics check out the Flickr album here.

Baadaye/Hasta la próxima/Until next time,

Dan

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The Portuguese have left the building…A Photo Tour of Ilha’s Ibo & Mocambique

Hello again world,

In my earlier post on the Mozambique travels last week, I promised a follow-up on the second half of the trip down to Mozambique. Don’t say I never deliver the goods. This week – I proudly present Part II – Ladies & Gentlemen, the Portuguese have left the building…

A very Wiki History lesson to set the stage

An abbreviated and inadequate history: Mozambique was colonized by the Portuguese empire in 1505. They stuck around for several hundred years and built up colony with an impressive resource-based trading empire. Fast forward to 1975 when the Portuguese decided to pack up and leave after a war for independence and regime change back home. Upon independence on June 25, 1975 – a good riddance law was passed by the new government ordering all Portuguese to leave the country in 24 hours with only 20 kilograms of luggage! I guess lesson is always travel light – you never know. Mix that misguided policy  in with  the economic decline of these indian ocean trading companies and associated government in the early 20th century et voilà  - you have yourself the makings some very eery but fascinating ghost towns.

Needless to say, these places make for some amazing photography sets and I had a field day on this trip as everywhere you turned there were a hundred beautiful and very unique photos waiting to be made. Here’s some highlights – enjoy!

A Photo Tour of spooky Ilha do Ibo

We first visited the more remote and less known Ilha do Ibo in the Quirimbas National Marine Park. Wasn’t on the original itinerary but once we read about it we had to move plans around to make it happen. Easily my favorite spot on the whole trip and one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited in this life of mine.

I could show a hundred more from this place but must show some restraint!

Tired of photos already? Too bad – It’s Ilha de Mocambique’s time to shine

The second of these amazing historic places we visited and spent New Year’s was the somewhat more famous, a bit less abandoned, a lot more touristy, former capital of Portuguese East Africa - Ilha de Mocambique:

As mentioned in the last post – all these photos and more are available for your viewing pleasure in Flickr Set that might just make you drop what your doing and buy a ticket to Mozambique – right here after the link.

Catch you on the flip side

Up next – headed to Ethiopia at the end of March for an exciting 11 days of travel goodness in Northern Ethiopia and around Addis Ababa. Very excited for this trip – should be something very different culturally and geographically speaking than the travels made around Tanzania, Northern Mozambique, and Kenya so far this year.  Plus, as a true fan of delicious food served in large quantities…I’m excited for the prospect of being surrounded by Ethiopian food!

After that – end of April will bring a 5 day Easter weekend trip with friends to the city of Kigoma and the Gombe Stream National Park on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the western edge of Tanzania. Gombe Stream was made famous by a certain Ms. Jane Goodall back-in-the-day and her research on primates in this remote area. The park offers the opportunity to hike up into the mountains and (hopefully) observe the chimpanzee troops in their non-zoo habitat. But besides this, I’ve heard it’s an amazingly beautiful place, great hiking, and offers a chance to visit and swim (Bilharzia be damned) in Lake Tanganyika - the remaining on the list of Africa’s 3 main Great Lakes after trips to Lake Victoria and Lake Malawi last year. Lake Tanganyika, unlike me at my grade 6 track and field meets, has a number of impressive non-participation ribbons including: world’s longest lake, world’s second deepest lake, world’s second largest body of fresh water, and offers nice views into the neighboring DR Congo across the lake. Advanced warning of possible obnoxious future facebook status update: Dan Albrecht is…peeing while swimming in Lake Tanganyika and looking into THE DARK HEART OF AFRICA!!!

Given my track record with this post – you can expect to see a blog post and photos of these trips sometime in June…2012

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Mozambique by the road less, less traveled

Hello world,

It’s been awhile but have no fear – another dusty foot philosopher is back in February with some photos and tales from December/January’s overland travels down to Mozambique!

I wanted an adventure and I found it

This trip undertaken, with roommate Zach over a 10 day Christmas holiday break, took us down from Dar es Salaam into northern Mozambique  - a known route but one not often taken. I had spent most of the first four months back in Tanzania sticking around Dar on the weekends and generally falling into a rythym and normality of life. I was itching it get away from that so we went out seeking a good adventure and found it.

Will try to capture some of that 3 day adventure getting down there in this quick summary. I’m conscious of those out-do each other travel stories so will try not to do that but just tell a fun story! “oh yeah…you think that sounds crazy? I once traveled through {insert little known African country} on $1USD per day,  riding an near extinct species of camel, in the middle of the civil war, sick with malaria and cholera, and with only a toothbrush, a pack of gum, and my wits to survive”.

On the road again

Day 1 had us leave Dar early Christmas eve morning on a bus headed down to the very south of Tanzania -Mtwara. With no tickets purchased ahead of time (apparently a bad idea on one of the bigger travel days of the year) we had to pay extra (count the times this happens with me –  #1!)and squeeze ourselves onto one of the few buses headed down to Mtwara. 12 hours in the hot sun on bumpy roads, kids on laps, and greasy fries and the trip was off to a good start.

We made it into lovely Mikandani, a small old town just outside of Mtwara at dusk and spent Christmas eve at a lovely dive centre eating a good meal with tons of red-faced British men working out on the natural gas rigs off the coast. Mikandani is a beautiful little historic town – used to be a Arab swahili trading centre back in the day and had quite a bit of charm to it and was quite nice to explore -highly recommend it!

Early Christmas day morning we were off to the Ruvuma River which marks the border between Tanzania and Mozambique. This was the big unknown part of the trip -I’d done some reading online and from others accounts it seemed as though it was possible to do – although it had got quite a bit more difficult since the ferry sank 3 years ago. Read in the hostel the night before crossing that this was one of Africa’s least used border crossings and the river was filled with hippos and crocodiles – oh my!

The mini-bus down to the river took about an hour and being our only option to get there ended up being one of the more expensive dalla-dalla rides in TZ history (#2!). A quick  price was agreed and from there we hopped in a row boat with our bags and we were on our way being paddled across the wide Ruvuma. Did you cringe when I said ‘a quick price was agreed”? Yeah, unfortunately you weren’t there at the time to give us that warning.

Needless to say, the currency of the transaction changed once we were in the middle of the river and theres not much you can do when they stop the boat in the middle of the river, hippos about 30 meters away on either side, and demand payment.  For those of you counting at home…that’s #3.

Once we got the price to a respectable compromise and were safely to the other side – we faced another similar situation. One lone transport option to get you from A to B – they name the price and you can only negotiate so much so you pay your “stranded mzungu tax” (#4!) and be on your way or end up stranded in the middle of nowhere. I was hoping to see some elephants and maybe a lion out here in the bush as I had read there were some large wild animal populations out here – but unluckily (some might say luckily) didn’t end up coming across any.

After bumping along on these sand and red dirt roads on this afternoon I truly earned the “dusty” in this blog title – covered in a thick layer of dirt and grime. Fun ride overall though and we were in high spirits. We pulled into the town of Mocímboa da Praia that night and found a sketchy bus station place to crash for a few hours.

Sitting  on another bus from 4am the next day gave me some time to reflect: Northern Mozambique was very much like Tanzania in the end (and why not when borders are drawn up on maps and many tribes/cultures are in both). Swahili was more useful than any Portuguese words for most of the trip and the north of the country seemed to have been barely influenced by the Portuguese compared to what I might have expected and heard but I expect this is much more true the further south you go.

Also, it was pretty annoying paying the stranded mzungu tax so often on this journey- but in the end I couldn’t blame anyone too much. At times it was our own lack of caution and finalizing terms in advance and other times just people trying to take advantage of a rare situation that had presented itself. It was Christmas time afterall…

Pulling into Pemba the third day afternoon was a beautiful thing. The city itself was nice but nothing spectacular to write home about and the highlights were a long awaited shower, good food, relaxation, beaches, and meeting our new travel buddies – two other Canadians working in Mozambique who would end up travelling around with us for the rest of the trip. The remaining days were a less adventurous but a lot more relaxing!

All these photos and more are now posted in a Flickr Set for your visual stimulation here.

Stay tuned next week for the follow-up blog post Ladies and Gentlemen, The Portuguese have left the building” for photo tours of two amazing history-filled islands we visited in the remaining portion of time!

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